Sunday, July 1, 2018

Pray more

As I wrote about before, I spend an hour each week at the church in prayer. I pray often throughout the week, but I want to be more intentional about praying. I want to spend longer periods of time praying during the week, not just my hour at church.

Recently I posted on Facebook offering to pray for my friends. I had several responses both on the post and through private messaging. I prayed for every one of them! I have also tried to make a point to pray any time I see someone post on social media asking for prayer. This is quite a challenge! Some of these prayer requests are for immediate needs, some are for more long term issues.

I decided to start my own prayer list at home, like one that we have at the church. I have a box with index cards in it. One prayer request on each card. Whenever someone asks me to pray about something, I can add a card to the box. Each day that I pray for these requests, I mark it with the date. My hope is that as these requests are answered I can move them to an "answered" box, to remind me of answered prayers. I may, perhaps in some cases, even give the card to the person I was praying for after the prayer has been answered.

The picture below is of the stack of index cards I am going to use, along with my prayer journal that I write prayers in (not all of my prayers, but some). It is on my bed near my pillow. I spend a lot of time in bed because of fatigue and pain, but it is a great place to pray!

I don't want to be sick, but I can see how God has used my illness to teach me and grow me, and I am very thankful for that. I have learned things through illness that I don't think I would have learned any other way. Praise the Lord!

My prayers aren't anything special, just me talking to God, but if you would like me to join you in prayer for something, feel free to let me know, and I will be happy to pray!

Friday, June 29, 2018

What am I here for? Part 3

I am here to seek God's kingdom, and His righteousness first, I am here to share the gospel with others, I am here to pray, praise God, rest...

6. Be a "helpmeet" to Archie. What does that mean to me? It means that I love Archie. I respect him. I support him. I encourage him in his walk with the Lord, in his work, in every area of his life. I pray for him. I challenge him to be who God wants him to be. We are a team, we work together to build our marriage, and our family. I am there for him when he needs me. I work to be understanding and forgiving. I make an effort to learn how to be there for him in every way that I can be. I want our relationship to be a beautiful representation of the relationship of Christ and His Church.

Ephesians 5:31-32 "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

7. Raise my sons. What a huge blessing to have given birth to 4 beautiful sons! When Archie and I first married, I remember the women in the house talking about whether or not Archie and I would have boys or girls, the decided we would have "mostly" boys. They were "mostly" right, we had ALL boys! Although Silas is no longer with us, we did get to raise him for nearly 5 years, and I am so thankful that he was here for that short time. Now to get the other three raised!

Parenting boys has been one of the biggest challenges in my life for sure. It has been messy, disgusting, hard, exhausting, hilarious, precious, sweet, and very worthwhile.

Michael will be 18 in a few months. I often call him the man-child, he is a mixture of maturity and childishness, both man and boy at the same time. I see so much potential in him! Gideon at 15 is level headed and calm. He loves working with his hands and he doesn't let much bother him. Jason has been a huge challenge for me! (Shh, don't tell him, but I think he might be smarter than me). He will be 13 in 2 months. He thinks outside the box, he is a problem solver, and he has a very strong will!

I want my boys to succeed in life. I hope they all marry and have families one day, I hope they find careers that they enjoy, but more than anything else, I want them all to love Jesus and be completely devoted to Him.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart, you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

8. Encourage other women. I have had a desire to do this for many years, since my oldest two sons were very small. It is another thing I haven't always done, but it is something I am learning to be more intentional about. Though there may be some gentlemen that read this blog, in my mind, I am writing to encourage other women. (Though I hope it is encouraging to anyone who reads!).

Women need so much encouragement, we need encouragement in work, in marriage, in raising children, in navigating relationships, in homemaking, in homeschooling, in taking care of our health,.... the list goes on and on. Most importantly though, we need to encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus, to walk with Him and talk with Him daily. This life is so busy, and it is so VERY easy to get off track, we need to take time to connect with other women in order to build each other up. We need to be there for each other. I want to do that.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing."

So these are the reasons I am here, these are the things I know I am supposed to be doing. Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, sharing the gospel with others, praying, praising, resting, being a helpmeet to my husband, raising my children, and encouraging other women. This is enough! I don't do all of these things perfectly all of the time, but I am growing. God is faithful, and if I trust and obey, He will do the work, and He will be glorified in my life.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What am I here for? Part 2

I am here to seek God's kingdom, and His righteousness first, I am here to share the gospel with others....

3. Pray. God has made a way for us to communicate with Him and He hears us, this is such a gift! I won't go into a lot of detail about my personal calling to pray in this post, but you can read about it here. Prayer isn't just a way for us to tell God things or ask God for things, it is a way for God to do His work in us. It is such a blessing!

Matthew 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father, who sees in secret will reward you openly."

4. Praise God! Not only should I praise Him because He loves me, and has saved me from sin with His own blood, but I should also praise Him continually because He is worthy of all praise! I was made to praise Him and in doing so I find fulfillment. I can praise Him in song, in dance, in work, in the way I live. There is a song from my childhood that sums it up...

In my life Lord, be glorified, be glorified.
In my life Lord, be glorified today.

Revelation 4:11 "You are worth O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

Psalm 150:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD, Praise the LORD!"

5. Rest. With the health struggles I have had over the past few years, physical rest has become something that I have to do now. I talk about this here. Regular time for rest is an idea the Lord came up with when He created the Sabbath! He knew we needed rest! We function better when we take the time we need to rest. There is another kind of rest too though, resting in the Lord. Resting in the knowledge that He is in control, that He is working for my good, and that He loves me no matter what.

Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light."

If I am so busy with the cares of this world, if I am so busy doing things, even good things, that I am not taking time to rest and listen and learn from the Lord, then I am missing out on what is most important. My physical limitations are teaching me a lot and I am learning to thank God for them, (though I still hope to be well one day).

Continued in part 3

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What am I here for? Part 1

The Westminster Catechism begins with the question...

What is the chief end of man?

and the answer is...

Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

Why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do with my life?

I am fairly confident that most people ask these or similar questions at some point in their lives. I know I have! In fact, I have probably asked these questions a number of times throughout my life so far. As a believer though, I think the questions should be a little different...

What is the Lord's will for me? How can I glorify God with the life God has given me? 

After all, I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, He paid for my life with His blood, I belong to Him!

Recently during a church service I wrote down a list of 8 things I know God has called me to. Some of them He clearly showed me a long time ago, and some more recently. I have wrestled with what order these things should go in, but no matter what order I put them in, it doesn't seem quite right. So in no particular order, here are some things God has showed me.

1. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

Matthew 6:33 says "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

This was the verse that God gave me for 2017. A verse to focus on for the year, to meditate on.

I should be seeking things that are of eternal value such as a right relationship with the Lord, sharing the good news of Jesus with others, teaching my children about God and His Word, studying the Word myself, and fellowshipping with other believers. I shouldn't be worrying about things I need or want. God knows what I really need, and He will provide. So much of what I worry about, does not have eternal value. I need to lay all that aside and trust the Lord.

2. Share the Gospel. 

Matthew 28:19-20 says "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Mark 16:15 is similar, "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

When I was 17 years old I really wanted to go on a missions trip with Teen Missions International. I was praying about it and ready to send out my application. I wanted to be sure though, so I asked the Lord to show me from scripture that this was something He wanted me to do. Only moments later I looked up, and hanging on the back of the door was a sweat shirt with Mark 16:15 printed on the back! I sent out my application the next day. I went to Australia with Teen Missions that Summer of 1995 and it had a huge impact on my life! I committed to serve the Lord with my life during that time, and while I have not always been faithful in that, it is still in my heart to serve the Lord with my life, and He has been faithful to keep working on me. (Phil. 1:6).

Sharing the gospel should be something I am intentional about. Knowing God, and having a right relationship with Him matters more than anything else in this life. I should be sharing with people I know, and looking for opportunities to share with others. Sharing with people about my Savior should be something I have a passion for!

To be continued in the next post.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

My garden this year

Every year I make some sort of attempt at a vegetable garden. Some years I get food that we can actually eat, other years, my effort is for naught. Some years, my effort is just not enough.

I never plant tomatoes, but usually get some anyway. I really like to have a variety of squash. This year I planted pumpkin, butternut, yellow and green zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers. I also planted a persimmon tree! I hope the tree takes, I had one a couple of years ago but it died. So far, everything looks good! I've got blooms on some of the plants and with all of the rain we have had they seem to be growing fast. One year I had tons of blooms but no fruit. Hopefully that won't be the case this year.

I try to get out and weed a little at least once a week. It is too hot most days to stay out for long.

When/if I get some food from my garden, I will be sure and share!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A day in Savannah

Yesterday morning we headed out the door about 8:15 am to make the hour and a half drive to Savannah to deliver toys to the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital. Each year since Silas passed away in 2013, we have collected toys from our community and delivered them to the hospital in memory Silas' birthday (June 4th). Since he is not here, it seemed good to get toys anyway and take them to kids who can use them.

Silas spent many days and nights in the hospital and the toys really helped. There is a play room where kids can play with a toy kitchen, video games, or any number of other big toys. There is a treasure chest of small toys that can help motivate a child to take their medicine, sit still through a dressing change, or endure some other unpleasant part of their treatment. Some toys are used for therapy, some for diversion. Then there are special toys for birthdays and other holidays that have to be spent in the hospital. DVDs are especially helpful when a child isn't well enough to get out of bed, or is required to sit still during a procedure. One of Silas' favorite things was a tricycle, he would ride up and down the halls as fast as he could while I followed behind, chasing him with his IV pole. A simple toy, can make such a difference. It can bring a little comfort to a frightening situation, and even sometimes a smile when there are few to be had.

Before we went to the hospital we stopped off at a grocery store for some mini muffins and cupcakes for the nursing and child life staff. Though some have moved on, we still have many friends among them! Pediatric Oncology is not an easy place to work.

We finally arrived at the hospital, pulled up to the curb and unloaded the van. We had friends from Savannah meeting us there with even more toys they had collected! A representative from CURE Childhood Cancer was there to receive a check that the Sons of Smoke had given us to pass on to them. CURE was thrilled with such a generous donation! (CURE supports Childhood Cancer research, families of children currently going through treatment, and families of children who have passed away, they are an excellent organization!). After unloading, Archie parked the van and we carried the toys inside, it was like a parade! Some went to the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology clinic, and some went upstairs to the Pediatric Specialty Unit (PSU), where kids receive inpatient care. We visited with friends in the clinic, and took some pictures, and then headed upstairs to take some toys up there and see more of our friends.

While we were upstairs in the PSU, I saw a little boy, probably around 4 years old, riding a toy down the hallway, it reminded me of many times that Silas did the same. While I love seeing the staff who became like family during the months of Silas' treatment, there are other emotions that I struggle with every time we go. Being in that hospital is still very difficult. I want to give hugs and catch up, but I also want to run out crying at the same time. It hurts to be there. It hurts to not have Silas with us.

We left the hospital and headed to get some lunch and go to the beach, but the thunderstorms started and we decided to do a little shopping first. After a couple of hours it was still raining some but we decided to go to the beach anyway, just to see the ocean. When we arrived there was a break in the clouds and we enjoyed the sand and sea for about an hour and a half. I love the ocean! Archie and I only got our feet wet, but Michael, Gideon, and Jason spent nearly the whole time in the water.

We drove back home, and went to bed very tired. It was a good day.

This was the 6th toy drive we have done. We are so grateful to everyone who made it happen, we could not do it alone! I don't know if we will continue to do it every year, but I am glad we have done it these past 6 years. I hope that as the Child Life volunteers go through the boxes of toys that they are saying things like "We needed one of these!", "This is perfect!", and "I know exactly who needs this toy!".

Once again, thank you all so much for making this happen! Thank you for remembering Silas.

Friday, June 8, 2018

An hour of prayer

Many years ago, when I was 20, I felt a strong calling from the Lord to prayer. As believers, we are all called to prayer! The scripture is full of examples of prayer and instructions to pray. Everyone has different things they are called to. I felt like prayer was something the Lord especially wanted me to be faithful to, but I wasn't.

I've always prayed daily. Always shooting up quick prayers about everything, but never devoting myself to serious, lengthy, deep prayer.

Recently, our church created a new prayer ministry. We have a room dedicated to prayer. People in the congregation can sign up to pray throughout the week and spend an hour of prayer there. There are lists of people and ministries to pray for, a place to kneel, a desk, a rocking chair, and printed scriptures. I signed up for an hour a week and committed to be there at the same time each week.

It has been 6 months or so now and my life has been changed! I find myself singing praises as I drive to the prayer room, and as I walk in the door. I sometimes kneel, sometimes stand or pace, sometimes sit, sometimes rock. I look over the lists of prayer needs and pray for them. For salvation, for jobs, for healing, for expecting mothers, for missions, for church staff, for ministries in the church, for my husband and children, for my friends and family.

I always take my bible and a prayer journal with me. I write out many of my prayers! I really feel like there is something special about writing out my prayers. I look back on past prayers and write in when I see answers. Some prayers I have prayed for years and still see no answer, others are answered swiftly. Some prayers are answered in ways I would have never expected.

When my son Silas was sick, I struggled to pray. My prayers were short and simple, "please heal Silas", "please take his pain away", "God, please help". I often felt during those months that I didn't know how to pray or what I should pray for. One prayer I will never forget, I prayed 6 years ago (the day he was diagnosed with cancer), "God, I don't want to lose him!". Not in an audible voice, but very clearly I heard Him answer me "You can't lose him, no matter what happens". I knew that whether he lived or died, he would be safe. If he lived, he would be with me and grow up with his brothers, if he died, he would be safe in Heaven with Jesus waiting for me. I couldn't lose him.

After Silas went to Heaven, I didn't know what to pray at all. I praised the Lord when Silas took his last breath. His pain was over and he was healed forever. After that though, I did not pray much for months. I would still shoot up the occasional "Lord help me!" but I really didn't know what to say to God. I wasn't mad at Him, I was grieving and I was at a loss for words.

Since then, the Lord has slowly been teaching me how to pray again. This prayer room ministry has been so helpful in that process! I find that I am more mindful to take everything to the Lord, not just during my weekly prayer hour, but throughout the whole week! When I leave the prayer room after my hour, I find I am either singing praises, or continuing to pray as I leave. I find myself praying much of the rest of the day! These days, when I stop and just listen, there is a song of praise going through my head.

When people ask me to pray for them, not only do I pray for them almost immediately, but I also ask the Lord to remind me to pray for them, and He does!

I am so thankful for this prayer ministry, and even more, I am thankful that God has made a way for me to come before Him in prayer! Praising Him, thanking Him, sharing my life with Him, interceeding, and making requests. What a privilege! What a joy!